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Tulsa Public School 'pandemic pod' parents consider not returning to class

Pandemic pods in Tulsa
Posted at 4:55 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 19:54:49-04

TULSA, Okla. — In less than two weeks, the Tulsa Public School district is gradually opening its building doors to elementary aged students, but some parents aren’t jumping at the chance to have their kids back in the physical classroom.

While TPS leadership made it clear they want to encourage in-person learning and are taking multiple steps to be as safe as possible, the district is still providing distance-learning lessons for parents who are not comfortable sending their kids back just yet.

One parent 2 Works for You spoke with is part of a distance learning group nicknamed a “pandemic pod.” The pod has about 10 similar aged students who meet to distance learn in the same space while a teacher facilitates them.

“We’ve kind of been spoiled,” said mother of three Nicole Grafton. “Having 10-11 kids in a classroom, way shorter, hours, control over what they eat, control over what homework and work they are doing, it had kid of put the control back in our laps.”

Grafton also said, having both a visual teacher and a teacher for their small group offers more support for her two school-aged children.

“My five year old has two teachers and my eight year old has two teachers,” Grafton said. “It nice to be able to talk to some one about the assignments who can understand how to help them both, it’s like home school but not all the way.”

This is why when the option to head back to class was announced, Grafton said she and her husband were split.

“We still are on the fence,” Grafton said. “The five year old its his kindergarten year, he has a routine with his other 5 years old's and he’s getting what he needs and our third grader need to be up and switching to classes so he really needs to be in school.”

While she and her family, like many others, way the options for each child, she said she’s thankful to have the choice to team up with other parents to get through this pandemic.

“This landscape is unknown,” Grafton said, “We are just going to make decisions as the school district makes decisions as well.”

TPS officials released the following dates students are expected to return to school:

  • Students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten will return on Monday, Nov. 9
  • Students in grades 1-3 will return on Monday, Nov. 16
  • Students in grades 4 and 5 will return on Monday, Nov. 30
  • Students who are in the 6th grade at an elementary school will also return on Monday, Nov. 30
  • Students in middle, junior high, and high school will continue in distance learning for the rest of the calendar year and return to in-person classes after winter break on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021

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